If you have a dog, then you've been especially concerned about this mysterious dog illness that has claimed the lives of many dogs around the country. It's such a devastating loss when the family pet passes on, but it's especially excruciating when it's unexpected.  And even more so when veterinarians say they've been unable to identify the cause of this sickness.

I have had dogs my entire life, and have been very careful when I take my furry best friend for a walk since this mysterious illness (similar to kennel cough) first surfaced. Like most dog owners, I have vaccinated my dog against the illness that dogs can contract from other dogs, but this one has had me particularly on edge.

This mysterious illness has been described as respiratory in nature, with coughing and sneezing leaving dogs quite lethargic. It has impacted dogs in most regions of the country, including here in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maine.

However, three cheers to the University of New Hampshire researchers, who believe they have discovered a clue to what's causing this illness.

According to WCVB Boston, UNH used genetic samples from dozens of dogs in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, and discovered a piece of a previously uncharacterized bacteria. They believe this bacteria has always been part of a dog's system, but has recently developed the capacity to cause this new disease in canines. Basically, it's resistant to normal treatment.

UNH plans to expand its research outside of New England to get samples from dogs across the country, according to WCVB. So this is only the beginning, but a solid start to keeping our doggies safe and healthy.

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